The Jews of Algeria had lived side by side with Muslims for centuries, but the struggle for Algerian independence presented them with stark choices, as Martin Evans explains.
With names like Derrida, Nouischi and Stora, Jews had lived in North Africa for over 2,000 years. Some had arrived with the Phoenicians between 1100 and 146 bc. Others sought refuge after their expulsion, along with the Muslim population, following the fall of Granada, the last bastion of Islamic Spain, in the Reconquista completed in 1492. As such the Jewish population was derived from a complex mosaic of Judeo-Berber, Judeo-Arab, Portuguese and Spanish roots, in which each locality had its own customs. Under Islamic law Jews were accorded a protected status as the ‘people of the book’. In return for a tax they were allowed to practice Judaism.